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Paris Cooking

17 Apr

What does one do when they visit Paris and have the opportunity to stay for two weeks in an apartment with full kitchen? Well they cook of course (apart from trying every beer and wine they can get their hands on).

The supermarkets here have a great deal more variety than the ones in Portugal. That is apart from yoghurt and cured sausages (salsicha and chouriso), Portugal wins hands down here with hundreds of each in even the smallest of supermarkets. Still nothing like the variety in the big Australian supermarkets but a definite improvement. Most recipes will be reproducible without needing to go to specialty stores.

This post is a collection of the recipes tried and some notes. Nothing fancy and all should hopefully use ingredients available back home in Australia.

Onion Soup

One of the staples of French cuisine. We used this recipe here:

Easy French onion soup

We didn’t quite caramelise the onions properly, also having a non stick pan means you don’t get that burnt glaze that goes so well in adding flavour to dishes. The stock instructions weren’t followed either but apart from it went down really well with our second baguette of the day.

Mustard Chicken

As the recipe states, mustard is often passed over by inexperienced cooks as they believe the flavour will be too intense. It’s quite the opposite. Cooked mustard mellows fantastically. I personally have covered steak with enough hot english mustard to kill an army then BBQed it with the resulting product being fantastic.

Mustard chicken recipe

Cream of Spinach Soup

Another recipe from the same site but we have run out now so shall be looking further afield. This one was particularly yummy as Camilla can testify to.

Cream of spinach soup recipe

Coq au Vin
When many people think French they think Coq au vin. Traditionally cooked with an older rooster for many hours we opted for chicken thighs and followed this Coq au vin recipe more or less. Very delicious but as with the creamy Parisian curry we had for lunch the other day it makes you want to go to sleep within five minutes of eating.


Portuguese Inspired Cocktail

25 Mar

I traveled to Porto recently with mum for a couple of days while Priscilla stayed in Lisbon looking after Camilla. While there we had to do a Port tour. Seeing how Port is made and of course tasting some. While there I was introduced to white Port and fell in love with it.

After proudly bringing back a bottle of white Port and making Pris taste it she decided she didn’t share my passion for it. So, tonight I looked through the cupboard and put together a cocktail. Here’s how it’s made. Put it all together in a small wine glass.

  • A splash of gin, just enough to coat the glass
  • A shot of white Port
  • Top off the glass with Vinho verde – hard to get in Australia but any mild, medium (not dry or sweet) wine such as one of the New Zealanders would make a good substitute. Vinho verde is like water almost

This trio of alcohol makes a lovely golden straw coloured drink that has a spicy bitterness that is offset by the sweetness of the port.

Beer Blog: Portuguese beers

9 Mar

Those who have made it to Portugal before know that this country is not really known for its beers. In fact the two main breweries in this country (Sagres and Super Bock) both produce a lager which is hard to tell apart. Like the generic lagers of most countries not known for their beers.  Of course I shouldn’t complain. These beers are readily available for about 3.60 Euros ( ~ 5 AUD) for a six pack. One third the price of beer in Australia.

I was almost desperate to get hold of a foreign beer before I tried the “special” beers from Super Bock. One which roughly translates as Artisan’s recipe and the other simply named Gourmet. Both are similar and until I tried them side by side I thought they were identical.

Artesanal – This one has slightly burnt notes and a definite blackcurrant taste to it. Along with that sweet yeasty flavour you get in Belgian beers. Without most of the complexity though.

Gourmet – This is the one that tastes most like a belgian beer, reminding me somewhat of Leffe Blonde. Not quite as sweet as the Artesanal and definitely easier to quaff.

The interesting thing about these beers is that the base flavour seems to be the same. I’m pretty sure they are brewed with the same yeast and hops but differ only in the malts used. From my own experiments in brewing you do tend to end up with a very similar product.

For another 30 cents a bottle I think these are both worth drinking over the normal product but as a top end product they both fall into the Crown Lager category. Full of puff but no steam.

More Beer

26 Dec

Whilst viewing the impressive array of both local and imported beers at the local Whole Foods (kind of like Thomas Dux on steroids) I stumbled across some local beers. The great thing about local craft beers is that they price competitively against the national brands so even though Whole Foods is generally a rip off this beer was just $6.99 for a six pack. The big brands at the same store come in at around $10.

The brewer is named the Marble Brewery and is located just down the road in Albuquerque. They offer the usual array of styles but I love my hop forward beers so I picked up their India Pale Ale (IPA). As with most American IPAs there’s no disappointment. I opened the bottle and immediately I was hit with a slightly grassy hop punch. The taste is nothing short of hopalicious. The flavour coming from the all American hop varieties of Amarillo Centennial and Columbus. There’s a slight metallic twang to it and just enough malty sweetness to not feel totally overpowered by the hops.

This is a fine beer, similar in taste to the Torpedo IPA from Sierra Nevada.  If you’re trying to find a similar beer available where you are then pick up the Torpedo. I’m certainly looking forward to trying more of the local brews on my travels. Like the local attractions they really help you remember a place.

The Beer Blog

20 Dec

Apart from just documenting the places we see on our travels we thought it might be nice to showcase some of the finer food and drink we come across along the way. We are by no means obsessive about our food and often we just see it as something to get us through the day so don’t expect photographs of every single meal we eat along with in depth descriptions. Just a word or two about something interesting we found along the way. Like the habanero hot chocolate I had yesterday or the fine beers from the Oak Creek Brewing Company.

Most people who haven’t spent time in the USA or aren’t really into their craft brews tend to think of American beers as tasting like fizzy water. Beers like Coors, Millers, Budweiser are bad ambassadors for what is actually a flourishing and massively varied industry in producing beers. Unlike Australia there are very few barriers to becoming a brewer in this country. In fact I’m fairly sure you can sell your home brew down at the local markets if you so choose. In Australia you would go directly to jail along with thousands of dollars in fines for such a simple act. Viva the USA’s unfettered capitalism.

The Oak Creek Brewing Company operates out of down town Sedona behind a strip mall in a nondescript building. In fact when we stopped by we weren’t even sure they were open. Walking in there’s a bar in what is essentially a large garage lined with massive stainless steel fermenters. They’re happy to sell you a pint at the bar for a few bucks but we felt kind of awkward holding a sixteen month baby with a full bar so I asked for a mixed six pack and took it back to the hotel.  $7.50 including tax when a typical craft beer six pack is about $10 plus tax. Bargain! In fact they *had it at the local supermarket for $9 plus ta,  I was very chuffed when I saw that.

The beers:

Amber Ale

The first beer I tried. I must say I wasn’t very impressed. So mildly hopped I could barely taste them you would think the malt would come forward. Whilst the malt really was all that you could taste it didn’t stand out that much either. Overall a very light beer. Good for craft brew beginners but not to my more seasoned taste.

Nut Brown Ale

This one has won medals and it shows. My favourite from the three I tried. Finding nut browns can be hard with very few commercial offerings. I liked it because it tasted very much the same as the version I last made. Nutty and earthy but without being overpoweringly gritty. Yummy and I would buy again.


Not my favourite style of beer, especially in micro and home brew varieties as it can be very difficult to balance the flavours in this type of beer but I liked this one. A fine banana nose and flavour with just a hint of cloves. The wheat was detectable and with much more would have turned me off the beer but like I said that’s because it’s not my favourite style. I think lovers of this style would enjoy this beer and I would recommend it.

All in all I did enjoy OakCreek’s beers and despite the amber ale being a bit disappointing, consider the fact that they produce six varieties plus seasonals, not every beer they produce can be a winner.